‘Debate Night in America’ was September 26. It was indeed a special night in Nashville because 23 organizations, Greek and civic, came together for a 2016 Presidential Debate Watch Party. The debate party was hosted by co-chairs Sharon W. Hurt, president Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Nashville Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter; and Beverly Glaze Johnson. It was co-hosted by the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Ashley Pinkerton, president; and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Nashville Alumnae Chapter, Dr. Gloria Johnson, president.
This debate was the first of three debates between the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and Republican nominee, Donald Trump. It was the most watched presidential debate in history.
The moderator for this non-partisan debate watch party was Kimberly Davis of News Channel 5 WTVF. Davis began the pre-debate conversation following the welcome by President Hurt and her introduction by Ms. Glaze Johnson.
Davis introduced a series of questions related to campaign issues, allowing guests to respond. One question was related to possible solutions to issues involving police and Black people, especially youth.
“More Black policemen need to be hired from the neighborhoods,” said Charles Scott.
Other questions asked concerned voting rights, jobs and the middle class. A number of people stated their opinions on each of these concerns. Food was made available during the conversation, while waiting for the debate.
All eyes turned to the televisions located in various places throughout the restaurant as Lester Holt, the evening’s mediator, introduced Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Throughout the evening, everyone listened attentively and the candidates made their case, or lack of it, to the American people. There were times of laughter, murmurings of distrust, disgust, as well as displeasure, and sometimes disbelief, as they waited for the debate’s end.
Mrs. Clinton’s final statement was: “I support democracy, sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. I hope you go out to vote because it depends on you.”
Mr. Trump’s final statement was “I’m going to make America great again, but if she wins, I am surely going to support her.”
One young man, Chris Newell, said before the debate he was leaning toward Hillary Clinton. His conclusion after the debate was: “My mind has not changed. I’m still with Secretary Clinton.”
“Hillary was far more exceptional than the other candidate,” said Marilyn Robinson. “This is her time. She deserves the chance to lead this country.”
Ms. Davis begin the post-debate discussions with Glaze Johnson, who remembered her father, who passed on in 2011, and how that in his eighties he still shared stories of the antics and practices used when he registered to vote. She described how ‘showing his papers’ was an humiliating process for him and how it made him feel.
“This, in my opinion,” said Glaze Johnson, “is similar to the whole ‘birther’ issue. How long will African Americans have to subject to measuring up, proving we are human and that we have worth on many levels.”
Rep. Brenda Gilmore said that it was a great evening with all of the organizations coming together to view the debates: “We must remember to get out and vote.”
The Watch Party was held at the Konnector Restaurant and Lounge at 91 Vandiver Drive, Madison, Tenn. 37115. The owner, DeWayne Collier, thanked everyone for coming out, inviting them to come again.
In addition to the hosts and co-hosts, the other sponsoring organizations included: Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Eta Beta Sigma Chapter; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Gamma Phi Chapter; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Alpha Delta Omega Chapter; Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Rho Zeta Chapter, Hermitage, Tenn. (‘Music City Zetas’); Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc.; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Eta Psi Chapter; Fisk University; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Kappa Lambda Omega Chapter; Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Pi Zeta Chapter; Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., Upsilon Sigma Chapter; Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Psi Phi Zeta Chapter (Williamson County); Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., Lambda Iota Sigma Chapter; National Hook-Up of Black Women, Inc.; Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Pi Eta Sigma Chapter; Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Brentwood Alumni Chapter; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Upsilon Psi Omega Chapter; The Links, Inc., Nashville Chapter; The Links, Inc., Music City Chapter; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Omega Lambda Lambda Chapter; National Consortium of Black Women in Ministry, Inc.; and Alpha Phi Alpha, Tau Lambda Chapter.